That Wednesday felt like every other Wednesday, but it was not. Only if I had written my Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification exam on every Wednesday prior would it have been like the other ones. I started the day early, revised everything I had studied and by 2pm, I texted Hammed twice. Each message barely a second apart.
Although that might seem like just two words, it was more to me. It meant relief. I am sure the recipient of the messages must have felt the same - relief. God knows I had disturbed him a lot as I prepared for the exam. He was kind enough to help with some valuable tips without which I might not have passed (or maybe not as much as I did).
In the next couple of paragraphs, I would be sharing a couple of these tips and some new ones I picked up whilst preparing for the AZ-900 certification. Do you like coffee? At this point, you might want to fill your coffee mug because it is about to get very interesting. However, if coffee is not your jam, grab your favorite beverage and join me!
Preparing for the Certification Exam
Going by the cost of the exam and the mental stress that it comes with, I think passing the exam in one's first trial should be the goal, especially because it is very attainable. What this means is that one should work extra hard consistently to pass it. Personally, I am of the opinion that the pass mark of 70% is on the high side. However, with proper preparation, a score even as high as 90% is very attainable. Here are couple of tips to achieve that;
Here is how long is long enough : If you have no prior knowledge of Microsoft Azure, I think a study period of two hours daily for a month should be sufficient to ace the AZ-900 exam. On the 1st of June, 2022, I made a conscious decision to dedicate three hours every weekday towards preparing for the Microsoft Azure certification exam and by the 29th of June, 2022, I was Azure Fundamentals certified. It is important to note that until June came around, I knew nothing about Microsoft Azure or Cloud Computing. So whilst I cannot say the best way for you to read for this exam (only you can), I believe an arrangement that guarantees ~15 hours per week for four weeks would suffice.
Ask questions before you get asked : Upon picking the certification exam you want to write, reach out to someone who has written the exam and ask questions. And I mean, loads of questions. For instance with the AZ-900, I spoke to one of my mentors, Hammed Babatunde who was able to answer my more specific questions no article online covered. Apart from shedding light on things like do you think scheduling the exam in the midnight would be a great idea? (spoiler alert: no, it is not), that conversation boosted my confidence going to the exam. For what it's worth, yesterday was Hammed's birthday. Say a word of prayer for him.
Still on learning from the past : Normally, I would advise that candidates start with the resources at this point, however, not so fast, champ! I think it is important to first look out for potential past questions. I have a particular sample test that was contains practice AZ-900 questions. I would normally add a link to the file but for copyright concerns, I opt not to. Be sure to text me privately on twitter if you really want a copy.
Note: Now, the reason why I suggested looking out for practice questions before studying the resources is simple. As a candidate, you want to have an idea/feel of what the exam is like before you start studying. And even more importantly, by virtue of the timeframe of your preparations for the exam, you do not want to waste time studying things that you would not be tested on.
- Now let's talk about the resources : There are a lot of YouTube channels that offer tutorials that are as long as four hours on the AZ-900. However, I believe the learning paths on Microsoft Learn is more than sufficient. Not only is there the possibility of YouTube videos being redundant per the date it was posted, but Microsoft Learn is also the easiest way to learn about Microsoft products and services through its task-based, interactive learning with over 80 hours of free content. The learning path consists of modules that are geared towards making the candidate understand the concepts. Now, if like me, you prefer videos to texts, that is fine. There is a Coursera specialization you could take. Taken by Microsoft, the four-course specialization will prepare you to take the AZ-900: Microsoft Azure fundamentals exam. Upon completion of the specialization, you will even be offered a discount to the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification Exam to be redeemed at Pearson Vue, Microsoft's proctor exam site.
- Read according to weights : The AZ-900 exam includes six knowledge domain areas with weights assigned to them. It is very important to study in accordance with these weights. Each domain area maps to a learning path in Azure fundamentals on Microsoft Learn.
The percentages shown indicate the relative weight of each area on the exam. The higher the percentage, the more questions that part of the exam will contain.
Tips for Exam Day
I wrote my exams from the comfort of my home. Usually, there is an option to write from home or go to an exam center in your country. Regardless where you opt to write your exam, it is important that you have a little snack and use the bathroom before the exam so as to avoid a situation where you end up hungry or pressed midway through the exam.
Furthermore, it is important to have a government-issued identity card ready for the exams. This will be needed during the authentication process on the day of your exam. Also, endeavor to start the exam thirty minutes before the time stipulated for your exam. The authentication takes quite a while. And then, what is that saying about the early bird and worms again?
Lastly, do not panic. You don't want to be like me.
Free Microsoft Certification for Students
Before you go on with this part, I would like to state (for context) that the Microsoft fundamental exams costs $55 (~22,770 Nigerian Naira) and the associate exams costs $80 (~33,120 Nigerian Naira) for Nigerian candidates. Now, for students, Microsoft recently launched the student certification offer. At Microsoft, the mission has always been to help everyone achieve more, so they are making certifications and the resources to learn, prepare, and get certified, free for all eligible students, starting with fundamentals certifications. As part of this offer, not only do you get access to free fundamentals exam vouchers, but you also get free Microsoft official practice tests which are perfect to boost your chances of passing the Microsoft certification exam.
These eligible certifications include Microsoft Azure Fundamentals known as AZ-900, Microsoft 365 Fundamentals known as MS-900, Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals known as AI-900, Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals known as DP-900, Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals known as PL-900, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals CRM known as MB-910, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals ERP known as MB-920, Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals known as SC-900.
You can get started by following the steps on the student certification offer site where you will be directed to set up your student profile on Microsoft Learn and verify your student status. In all, this is a great benefit to students to get certified for free!
If you read to this point, I hope you found this piece helpful. I wish you the best of luck with your exams and look forward to your success stories. If you have any questions, please send me a direct message via twitter.